How to Measure and Attenuate Stress

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Researchers have shown that high levels of stress dwindle telomeres and accelerate aging. They have also shown that meditation reverses the detrimental effects of stress and lengthens telomeres, slowing aging. The article explains that stress can be estimated with a simple measurement device that is noninvasive, painless and takes only a minute or two. This is helpful as it instills a sense of confidence that the practice of meditation is working and encourages the aspirants to continue with the practice.

A case study was conducted not long ago to assess the stress levels of participants in a suburban Cincinnati program that was organized by three high schools sophomores. In the workshop, participants learned a simple meditation practice which they continued for three weeks. The before-and-after results corroborate the benefits of meditation for attenuating stress and accentuating positive emotions. The participants rated the program at 4.5 on a 1 to 5 point scale. This program should be useful to individuals and companies as stress and negative emotions negatively impacts performance, leadership and interpersonal relationships, not just health.

The Covid-19 pandemic has elevated stress levels of people everywhere. Elizabeth Blackburn received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for her discovery that telomeres, the caps on the ends of chromosomes in the nucleus of our cells, provide a protective function. Her
later studies showed that high levels of stress cause a dwindling of telomeres and accelerate aging. In an article in Nature, Blackburn issued a stark warning on the societal cost of stress. Covid-19 pandemic has exasperated the situation.

In a 2014 article in Mosaic Science, Blackburn suggested that meditation could slow the erosion of telomeres, perhaps lengthening them. Medical researchers have since shown that meditation lengthens telomeres and slows aging. Also see this video clip of Deepak Chopra in conversation with Jay Shetty explaining the benefits of meditation. These investigations also imply that meditation attenuates stress.

Telomere investigations are time-consuming. If we could estimate stress quickly and noninvasively, that would be great as the measurement would instill a sense of confidence in meditators that their practice is working, encouraging them to do it regularly.

Now, negative emotions lead to stress, positive emotions do not. Thus, attenuation of stress is tantamount to a rise in positive emotions and a fall in negative emotions, and this can be measured and experienced. A rise in positive emotion is supportive of an improvement in performance. The this article, The Secret of Exemplary Performance in BizEd, September/October 2019.

Declares the motto of the Yale University Center for Emotional Intelligence, “Emotions Matter.”

Unbeknownst to us, we all vibrate all the time. Our vibrational characteristics determine our emotional state. It is just that the vibrational signals are too weak to perceive with the five senses. For example, if you look at someone, can you really tell how that person is feeling? For measurement purposes, the vibrational signals have to be stimulated and amplified.

MIT researchers used wireless radio frequency (RF) signals in their device, which goes by the name EQ Radio. The device sends an RF signal to the subject and captures and analyzes the reflected signal to estimate emotions, they say at an accuracy of 87%, similar to an EKG. Their research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Air Force, with additional support from major corporations.

The device I use goes by the name Bio-Well, and it is based on the Gas Discharge Visualization (GDV) principle. Here, a harmless electrical signal is applied to the ring-finger of both hands, one at a time. The finger’s response to this electrical stimulus is a burst of photons which are captured and analyzed by software to estimate a stress parameter and energy which directly correlate to emotions and stress. See this short video clip on how the measurement is made.

Bio-Well is not intended to be used as a medical device, however, the GDV technology is registered with the FDA and the EU. The measurement is noninvasive, painless, and takes only a couple of minutes.

The stress parameter ranges from 0 to 10. The lower the stress parameter, the better. The value of ~2.0 is a calm state. Negative emotions elevate the stress parameter. The energy level should be higher than 60 J.

The efficacy of meditation practices can be assessed by the practitioner experientially. Furthermore, visual inspection of the photonic energy profile and the values of the stress parameter and energy before and after the practice, will offer comforting motivation to continue with the practice. See the paper, Non-Invasive Measurement of Stress and Bioenergy Disruption, coauthored with the inventor of the device which includes photonic energy profiles of several individuals.

Not long ago, I measured the stress parameter of participants in my lectures in several Indian cities. The organizations included the Department of Higher Education of a State Government and six reputed academic institutions. The stress parameter of the participants would likely be higher now owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Figure 1 displays these results. Notice that the stress parameter for myself is the lowest among all but one participant.

Figure 1. Stress Parameter Data in Several Indian Cities

US Case Study

Three Mason-Ohio area high school sophomores organized two sessions for me with the help of their parents. The first session was held in Mason on July 11, 2021. In the first session, there were thirty-eight participants. The children began the session with an introduction to the topic and its importance in today’s world. They then turned over the session to me. I went over the scientific framework for internal and external excellence and covered the principles explained in this article. I then measured the stress parameter and energy level of the participants and put them through a simple 21-minute meditation practice.

Finally, the heart rate of the participants, before-and-after meditation, were measured. Figure 2 depicts heart rate of the participants in the July 11 session. The heart rate of everyone reduced which is a good sign.

The second session was conducted on August 1, 2021. Due to summer vacations, not all the participants present in the first session were present in the second session. In the second session, I offered a synopsis of the scientific framework for external and internal excellence and then re-measured the stress parameter and energy level of the participants present to assess if three weeks of daily meditation practice had made a positive difference.

Figure 3(a) depicts a photograph of the participants in the first session. Figure 3(b) presents the
photographs of Ronith Abbu, Dhanush Bearelly and Saketh Kalikiri, the three children who organized the workshops along with their parents and me.

Figure 4 depicts the stress parameter of the participants in the July 11 session and compares them with those on August 1 along with the stress parameter of the author, a long time-meditator. Figure 5 depicts the energy level of the participants on July 11 and August 1 along with the energy level of the author and long-time meditator.

Figure 3. Before-and-After Meditation Heart Rate of Participants
Figure 3(a) Participants in July 11 Session at Mason, Ohio
Figure 3 (b). Saketh Kalikiri, Ronith Abbu, & Dhanush Bearelly with the author and their Parents
Figure 4. Stress Parameter of Participants on July 1 and August 1, 2021

From these figures, it is evident that there is an overall improvement in the stress parameter and energy level of many participants. It is particularly heartening that there is an overall improvement in the stress parameter and energy level of all three children.

Figure 5. Energy Parameter of Participants on July 1 and August 1, 2021

In Closing

The article has explained the importance of reducing stress and the use of meditation as a tool to achieve improvement. The device Bio-Well provides a simple and noninvasive assessment of stress in the form of a stress parameter and energy level. The availability of a measurement device for stress means the extent of improvement due to meditation can be audited. The case study confirms the claims in the paper which means meditation is worthy of inclusion in today’s stressed out schools and workplaces.

About The Author

Pradeep Deshpande is a Professor Emeritus in and a former Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Louisville, and President of Louisville, KY-based Six Sigma and Advanced Controls. Inc. Professor Deshpande has interacted with two Prime Ministers (Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao) of India, but the opportunity this time is far bigger, nothing short of world transformation. He has made. a presentation to the entire staff of the office of the current Prime Minister of India and in the Parliament of Peru

In his thirty-three years on the faculty at the University of Louisville (1975-2008), he supervised twenty doctoral scholars and over forty Master’s scholars. He is an author or coauthor of eight books and over one hundred papers and presentations. You can reach out to him at pradeep@sixsigmaquality.com.

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